Hub Python Library documentation

Git vs HTTP paradigm

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Git vs HTTP paradigm

The huggingface_hub library is a library for interacting with the Hugging Face Hub, which is a collections of git-based repositories (models, datasets or Spaces). There are two main ways to access the Hub using huggingface_hub.

The first approach, the so-called “git-based” approach, is led by the Repository class. This method uses a wrapper around the git command with additional functions specifically designed to interact with the Hub. The second option, called the “HTTP-based” approach, involves making HTTP requests using the HfApi client. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each approach.

Repository: the historical git-based approach

At first, huggingface_hub was mostly built around the Repository class. It provides Python wrappers for common git commands such as "git add", "git commit", "git push", "git tag", "git checkout", etc.

The library also helps with setting credentials and tracking large files, which are often used in machine learning repositories. Additionally, the library allows you to execute its methods in the background, making it useful for uploading data during training.

The main advantage of using a Repository is that it allows you to maintain a local copy of the entire repository on your machine. This can also be a disadvantage as it requires you to constantly update and maintain this local copy. This is similar to traditional software development where each developer maintains their own local copy and pushes changes when working on a feature. However, in the context of machine learning, this may not always be necessary as users may only need to download weights for inference or convert weights from one format to another without the need to clone the entire repository.

Repository is now deprecated in favor of the http-based alternatives. Given its large adoption in legacy code, the complete removal of Repository will only happen in release v1.0.

HfApi: a flexible and convenient HTTP client

The HfApi class was developed to provide an alternative to local git repositories, which can be cumbersome to maintain, especially when dealing with large models or datasets. The HfApi class offers the same functionality as git-based approaches, such as downloading and pushing files and creating branches and tags, but without the need for a local folder that needs to be kept in sync.

In addition to the functionalities already provided by git, the HfApi class offers additional features, such as the ability to manage repos, download files using caching for efficient reuse, search the Hub for repos and metadata, access community features such as discussions, PRs, and comments, and configure Spaces hardware and secrets.

What should I use ? And when ?

Overall, the HTTP-based approach is the recommended way to use huggingface_hub in all cases. HfApi allows to pull and push changes, work with PRs, tags and branches, interact with discussions and much more. Since the 0.16 release, the http-based methods can also run in the background, which was the last major advantage of the Repository class.

However, not all git commands are available through HfApi. Some may never be implemented, but we are always trying to improve and close the gap. If you don’t see your use case covered, please open an issue on Github! We welcome feedback to help build the 🤗 ecosystem with and for our users.

This preference of the http-based HfApi over the git-based Repository does not mean that git versioning will disappear from the Hugging Face Hub anytime soon. It will always be possible to use git commands locally in workflows where it makes sense.

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